What an absolutely superbly spine-tingling story! The Haunting of Aveline Jones is a satisfyingly chilling, tension-filled and eerily atmospheric story, and is the perfect read for a cold, dark evening – if you dare!
Aveline Jones has been sent to the seaside town of Malmouth on the Cornish Coast to stay with her Aunt Lilian whilst her mother visits her Grandmother who is unwell.
Aveline is a booklover who has a predilection towards those of the spooky kind – you know, the kind that keep you awake at night or, even worse/better, wake you up in the middle of the night! After visiting the most wonderful dusty old second-hand bookshop, she buys a book of folklore about local ghosts and phantoms.
Aveline finds the name of the previous owner, Primrose Penberthy, written in the book and, on further investigation, discovers that she went missing over 30 years previously. She is determined to find out what happened to her, to not let her be forgotten and to unearth the truth behind the last story in the book which has been crossed out … a booklover’s nightmare!
So begins a riveting mystery, laden with masterfully balanced tension and a sense of foreboding which creates a tightrope of suspense, orchestrated perfectly to send shivers down your spine. Is there any truth in a local almost forgotten ghost story? Why are scarecrows placed outside homes in the lead up to Halloween?
I am in awe of how enticingly the eerie atmosphere has been portrayed through the senses: a seaside town in winter, stormy weather, crashing waves, child-like scarecrows, scratching noises, unexpected occurrences and sightings, shocking revelations, the threat of danger … this is definitely a story that made me jumpy and read some parts from behind my fingers, and I loved it for being able to do that!
Aveline is a wonderful protagonist who shows great courage, determination and strength despite her understandable fear. She is intent on solving the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Primrose, and feels an affinity with her as she learns more and more about her. I loved how the relationship between Aveline and her Aunt Lilian changed during the course of the story, from one of tentativeness and awkwardness to closeness and warmth. I also enjoyed Aveline’s growing friendship with Harold who despite his scepticism about ghosts and irritating her at times, proves an ally in her investigation.
I have to give a special mention to the bookseller, Ernst Liberman, who is a wonderfully warm, eccentric character, kind-hearted with a wealth of bookish knowledge, who utters the lines that are very close to my heart … “ … Books are the most precious thing in all the world …”
The cover and inside illustrations by Keith Robinson are stunning and complement the spooky vibe of this story perfectly.
This is an absolutely perfect middle-grade read for those who like the frisson of fear, the eerie atmosphere and the build-up of tension that are all part of a thrilling ghost mystery story … it gave me delicious reading chills.
Thank you to the NetGalley and the publisher for an e-ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.